If the Prime Minister doesn’t want this perception to take hold, he had better start listening
What do the right to wear the cross as a declaration of the wearer’s faith and the Government’s intention of legalising gay marriage, despite the firm opposition of most Christians, have in common? Answer, the growing perception that the Coalition Government is hostile to the Christian religion. Is this really what David Cameron wants? If he doesn’t want the idea to get about that he and his Government are anti-Christian, he is going to have to ask himself how it comes about that he is rapidly alienating most of us.
As Alexander Boot puts it in a Daily Mail article headlined “Is this the most aggressively atheistic government in Britain’s history?”, “Our (Conservative!) government”, he writes, “has upheld employers’ rights to sack any employee for wearing a visible cross or a crucifix. This is an outrage”:
… our government finds the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice more objectionable than the symbol of any other religion (one sees a lot of turbans, hijabs and yamulkas in London streets) ….
Why is that, do you suppose? You must admit it sounds eerie – especially coming as it does at a time when our spivocrats are also trying to destroy the institution of marriage, the bedrock not just of Britain’s established religion but of our very realm.
The only answer I can find is that HMG officials hate Christianity more than anything else.… they must feel that Christianity puts what’s dearest to them in jeopardy. They are right; it does. For Christianity represents 2,000 years of tradition, something that our state is trying to undermine through most of its policies, including those that seem to be purely secular.
Another link between the right to wear the cross and the fight against the government’s intention to legalise same-sex marriage is ironically provided, though tangentially, by the European Court of Human Rights. This is not an institution I am fond of: but it has just handed down a very sensible decision on gay marriage in France, and may well hand down another on the right to wear the cross when it hears the case of two British women who have been told by our courts that they cannot wear this symbol of their religion at work. They will, scandalously, be opposed, on Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone’s orders by British Government lawyers: but they will, ironically, be supported by the government’s own political correctness quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This is another institution the usefulness of which I have not always been convinced by: but it will nevertheless argue in the same European Court of Human Rights test case that workers should have legal protection if they wish to display a token of their religious faith at work.
They may well win their case. When the EU tried to outlaw publicly displayed crucifixes in Schools and hospitals in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi appealed to Strasbourg and won: on the face of it, this seems a similar case. Strasbourg, I have to admit, doesn’t always get it wrong.
It has just, for instance, opined that same-sex couples do not have a human right to marriage. A lesbian couple had tried to establish marriage rights under European anti-discrimination laws but the judges declared that “the European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage”.
“The ruling,” says the Telegraph, “is likely to have an impact on David Cameron’s drive to allow gay marriages.” But are they right? On the face of it, the court seems to be supporting traditional, one man-one woman (in other words, real) marriage: “the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples”.
What they do support is civil unions of the type we have enacted here. On the issue of gay unions, the judges said: “Where national legislation recognises registered partnerships between same sex, member states should aim to ensure that their legal status and their rights and obligations are equivalent to those of heterosexual couples in a similar situation.”
So where does that leave us? The Telegraph says this ruling “is likely to have an impact on” the Governnment’s intentions to enact gay “marriage”: but how? I don’t know legally how that would work. Do we have a “human right” to live in a country where the whole meaning of marriage hasn’t been blasted out of the water by its own government? A moral right, certainly: but if the government persists with this legislation, could the Coalition for Marriage, say, go to Strasbourg and argue that our rights have been infringed? Probably not. But at the very least, Strasbourg confirms one thing: there is no human right to gay marriage: “in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage”, the court declares, a gay civil relationship cannot “be said to be comparable to that of married couples”.
Incidentally, the Coalition for Marriage petition now has over 300,000 signatures. Cameron may ignore the petition, however great the support it attracts. But the larger the number of signatures, the more his apparent stubborn contempt for those he governs will be exposed: if you haven’t signed it yet, do it now.